One thing is for certain about the 2018 Pacific Cup; at no point has it ever been a boring race. With constant weather changes, never-ending lead changes, gut-wrenching tactical decisions to be made and huge splits in the fleet as a result, this race is poised to come down to the wire before most, if not all, of the results are decided. For your Pac Cup media team, we very well may need counseling once this race is over as a result of all of the emotional ups and downs of this prolonged adventure that we call the Pacific Cup. Just when we thought a foiling new Beneteau may be first over the line and a storied old green boat with a trophy case full of hardware would add another big one, they both got nearly becalmed up north while a mini-maxi and a west coast sled from the 'bad' start day slipped away from the coast unscathed and began a meteoric rise up through the ranks.

Two days ago, we watched the Mark Mills designed 68' mini-maxi Prospector with interest as they began legging out on their fleet and potentially putting themselves in a position to be first over the line and spoil A Fond le Girafon's Cinderella story. One day ago, chatter of them potentially being a contender for the overall Pacific Cup (though likely not winning their division, more on that later...) began circulating throughout the Pac Cup race team, and now it's beginning to look like a real possibility - if not probability - that Prospector could well claim first to finish, fastest elapsed time and the Pacific Cup overall. With renowned navigator Artie Means calling the shots on routing, the boat is likely to leave very little time on the table when making her way down the race course and into Kaneohe. After the way this race has evolved however, we're not making any bold predictions until boats are nestled in the barn.

While Prospector is beginning to look like a very real contender to win the Pacific Cup overall, they will likely not win their division as the mighty Pyewacket is putting in a performance for the ages to take a commanding lead in the BMW of San Rafael E division. Due to somewhat of a technicality however, Pyewacketwill not be eligible for the Pacific Cup overall award as a result of flying a specialty reaching sail that is legal under the ORR rule under which the big boats are racing, but not under PHRF which is the rule that is used to decide the overall Pacific Cup winner. Having said all of that, Pyewacket and her crew of world-renowned sailors including Volvo Ocean Race superstarts Tom Addis, Stu Bannatyne and Kaneohe's own Mark Towill, not to mention 5-time Olympic medallist Torben Grael, have been absolutely on fire since the start and are building up a solid cushion over her divisional rivals, including the other three 'sleds' in the E division, all of which are faster rated boats.

One reason for Prospector's constantly increasing chances of winning the overall Pacific Cup award is that current overall corrected time leader Green Buffalo,Jim Quanci's green Cal 40 that has led since the start, has been sailing below 5 knots of boat speed for more than a day now. Making matters even worse, theBuffalo is pointed south, both on the race course and on the leaderboard. Putting in a daily run of just 65 nautical miles (made good) yesterday, she is on a slippery slope that could see much of the Express 27 fleet, and potentially her Cal 40 rival Highlander move past her in the rankings. Green Buffalo isn't alone either; the Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon, Hanse 505 Outremer and the J/105 Abstract have all been on the same slow-moving pain train, though are just now beginning to re-acclerate. Playing the north very rarely pays dividends in a Hawaii race, and while it looked good while it lasted, it now begins to look more and more like the southerly boats will reap the rewards of making long-term investments early and not picking the low-hanging fruit and easy miles that existed up north in the early stages of this race.

As a result of Douglas Pihlaja's J/105 Abstract getting stuck up north and fading fast in the rankings, the DH2/ Mount Gay Rum doublehanded division has been blown wide open and could now be a four-way battle between four quite different boats; Moore 24 Foamy, Santa Cruz 27 Zipper, Antrim 27 Bacon Berger and the Donovan 30 Wolfpack. Lester Robertson sailed a Moore 24 to Hawaii 38 years ago in the first-ever Singlehanded Transpac and all these years later, Lester is still doing his thing. Owning the south since day one, the little Moore has slowly but surely worked her way up the leaderboard and as of this writing holds a very small margin, just 30 minutes on corrected time, over Alexia Fischer's Santa Cruz 27 Zipper, who has had tracker issues for the duration of the race and does not display properly on the race's YellowBrick tracker. Just a few more hours off the pace, Bacon Berger, the Antrim 27 sailed by Kaneohe Yacht Club Commodore Frederic Berg and Mikey Bacon is more or less gybing down the rhumb line now, while running fairly hot angles and making great speed. Now taking another hitch south is perennial contender and two-time defending division champions Bill and Melinda Erkelens on the Jim Donovan-designed MORC 30 Wolfpack. With one boat working the rhumb line, two boats in the middle and one boat playing the south hard, this race is an absolutely fascinating race between some phenomenal sailors who are pulling out every trick in the playbook. 

Our other doublehanded division in this race, the DH1/ Pau Maui Vodka division promised to be a close one from day one, and it certainly has not disappointed. A six-boat one-design Express 27 division, the fleet has stayed in pretty close formation south of the rhumb line and continues to see four boats consistently trading positions on the leaderboard. Alternate Reality is leading at the moment over Loose Cannon, Motorcycle Irene and Fired Up! - in that order - but we don't recommend reading into it too much as the positions are likely to have shuffled again by the time we write our next update. In the wake of the Volvo Ocean Race, this is the best one-design ocean race going right now. One can't forget about Rebecca Hinden's fully-crewed Express 27 Bombora, who has faded slightly on the overall leaderboard but remains a top contender and may even be able to overtake Green Buffalo in the Coral Reef Sailing Apparel A division, after she gained a staggering FIFTY miles on Green Buffalo in the last 24 hours.

The Weems & Plath B division has also seen the boats at the top of the leaderboard compress a bit in the corrected rankings, though Benjamin Rummen's Farr 1220 The Fugitive currently remains atop the leaderboard, though the Swan 46 Free, Davidson 44 Imagine and Grand Soleil 50 Alessandra are all just a handful of hours behind on corrected time. Unfortunately, we must wish our friends on Paul Eichen's Farr 44 Companera a warm aloha, as they have retired from the race, bound for San Diego with rudder issues. All souls onboard are safe and the situation is said to be 'quite manageable'. 

Another thrilling battle is that of the Alaska Airlines C division in which Phil Wampold's J/92 Zaff and Dean Treadway's famous Farr 36 Sweet Okole are nearly tied on the tracker's corrected time calculations, though are sailing quite different routes. Okole appears to have just set an A2 or similar and is beginning to soak down to the rhumb line, while Zaff runs just south of rhumb and the Hobie 33 Aloha  and the Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy are match racing down the rhumb line to fill the final podium position. One would expect Sweet Okole to benefit from her new rig and assymetrical spinnaker inventory in the later running stages of this race, though again, we're not making any bold predictions in this race as it's proven to be a highly competitive division as originally anticipated. 

The Pasha Hawaii D division continues to be controlled by Gregory Mullins' Farr 52 Zamazaan, who has proven themselves to be the class of the fleet in the early stages of this race, jumping out to a commanding lead in division while J World's Hula Girl remains second in fleet, though Chris Kramer's Columbia 32 Six Brothers continues to impress and slowly make gains on Hula Girl as the breeze moves aft and the smaller, lightweight sportboat can begin surfing earlier than her larger, heavier rivals. 

The Kolea Cruising division has begun to see some real action on the leaderboard as Emmanuel Sauquet'sHanse 505 Outremer slowed alongside the other northerly boats, allowing her sistership Anais to make inroads into her once commanding lead. Outremer is slowly getting back up to speed, but still remains two knots slower than her sisitership who is well south of her, and continuing to head further south, towards the stronger breeze that may allow her to continue to make gains against her once-dominant sistership which sails with Vendée Globe superstar Tanguy de Lamotte onboard. Paul Koenig's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40.3 Bear Boat continues sailing at more than 7 knots, near the rhumb line and relatively close to Anais, and is currently rounding out the cruiser's podium, while James Peo's Jeanneau 379 Knot Behaving also has a steering system that is not behaving. The crew reports that they are running under emergency rudder at a leisurely 5 knots, though they don't seem to perturbed. 

Mid Pacific Musings From the Deck of Prospector 17 July 2018

Things are definitely looking up.  About 8pm last we put up our big A2 Spinnaker and began sailing downwind after two and a half days of reaching.  Wind speeds remains light of the forecast but have picked up to 12-15 knots from 7-10 knots.  We are just past the half way mark of the race with less than 1000 nautical miles to go to Kanoehe.  At the downwind angles we are now sailing the boat is a lot flatter making life aboard much less acrobatic.  It has warmed up significantly and, yes, we have finally broken out our new Prospector board shorts.

It has been a busy day aboard our big silver sled.  Oatmeal for breakfast followed by some preparatory work for the squalls we might encounter down the road.  Matt Landry did a little aerial work to rig a letterbox take down line, so we can get the big white thing out front down in a hurry if we need to.  He followed that up with a salt water shower out on the prod to rig a quick release for the tack.  Happily, he reported, the water has warmed up considerably as we get closer to Hawaii.

Once Matt rinsed off and dried up he broke out his drone.  We all watched anxiously as it was launched and circled around us, taking some video, wondering if Matt would be able to retrieve it.  It hovered around, mostly down wind and abeam of us, for a few minutes as we powered along at 13 knots.  After a couple of approaches Matt maneuvered the drone close enough to the stern and brought it back onboard to a round of cheers.

Lunch of mac n cheese with spam, yes that spam, was enjoyed by all up on deck in warm conditions.  With the kite up, we have moved our sail stack back and now have a very comfortable faux Barcalounger on the lido deck that has become a highly coveted seating location.  With the temperature up, layers are coming off.  Wearing fewer layers and lighter gear is also lifting morale.  The only blot on this otherwise pretty picture is that it is becoming quite hot and pungent below decks.

Prospector takes off down wind.  We are sailing at 13-16 knot boat speeds in 12-13 knots of wind.  Over the last little bit, we have averaged 15 knots of boat speed.  Our hourly position reports, which are delayed 6 hours just like the one some of you are watching at home, have been uniformly good.  We have passed all of the Wednesday and Thursday starters and over the next 36 hours will pass most of the Monday starters too.  We are extending distance and bearing on the other boats in our class though Pyewacket continues to correct out ahead of us.  We also are keeping a close eye on Blue which has been gaining a bit after moving into reaching/running mode.

We are in the slot car phase of the race.  Going as fast as we can in our lane to a jibe point a few hundred miles north east of Hawaii.  This year’s race has been a little unusual.  The thermal low at the start threatened light winds and forced us south from the start.  Once we got there we saw better wind speeds to the south and headed that way to try to take advantage of it.  Now we are working around an unusual Pacific High that is really three highs in the shape of a sausage.  The flat isobars across the course mean we will be a lot further south and closer to Hawaii when we make the jibe for home.

We have a nice race going.  This section of the race, where we can post speeds in the high teens, as opposed to the first third of the race where we were going 9-10 knots, plays to our strengths.  With half the race to go and the advantage swinging our way we are pressing hard to move up the leaderboard and try to win the day.

A few shout outs from the team:

Huge thanks to:

Tery, Quinn and Lu for the care they take of Prospector and having her perfectly prepped and ready to go.  The boys improve her constantly and every time we get onboard she is a better boat than the one that finished our last event.

Colette, the Minister of the Interior, water maker, and freeze-dried maestro.  She is a saint for putting up with us.

Dave Scott.  Yoda.  ‘nuff said.

Artie Means.  An all around great shipmate, electro wizard, teacher and mentor.

Keep an eye out for our drone footage and some photos to follow.

Race Report from the event

Monday morning shows much of the same as Sunday on the leaderboard, but
there are some very major developments occurring on the race course which
threaten to significantly impact the overall rankings in this fascinating 20th
edition of the Pacific Cup. Most notably, the northerly boats in the first wave of
starters have sailed into a large area of very light winds and hit the brakes.
Furthermore, the Friday starters have proven to get off to a quicker start than
predicted and are storming towards the top of the overall Pacific Cup
leaderboard. Overall PHRF and Pac Cup leaderGreen Buffalo was sailing at
less than four knots this morning.
Also up north and showing reduced boat speeds are the top cruising boat and
still 2nd on line honors,Outremer,as well as the leading boat in the DH2/
Mount Gay Rum division, Douglas Pilhaja's J/105Abstract.As these northerly
boats all take their first major hitch south on a port gybe, they will begin to
consolidate with the more southerly boats in the fleet, who are still on
starboard and rumbling towards Hawaii, albeit still fairly slowly, though
comparatively quicker than their northerly rivals. If the most southerly boats
can reach the strongest breeze on the course and the northerly boats remain
slow, this most recent development could again threaten to blow the race wide
With lead boat, the experimentally-ratedA Fond le Girafon slowing to just 4
knots or so for the last day, their ETA into Kaneohe is getting pushed further
and further back, while far behind them the Mills 68Prospector- the fastest
boat in the entire fleet - is cruising along at a steady 14+ knots as of this
writing. Doing what modern mini-maxi's do, the big Mark Mills designed yacht
owned by the Shelter Island Transatlantic Partners has already blazed a path
past all of the Wednesday and Thursday starters and should soon begin
overhauling the first wave of starters in wholesale fashion. With most of the
first wave of starters in the southerly pack at around the halfway mark
andProspector just 400 miles astern, it now looks like a Friday starter may
well be the first boat into Kaneohe.Prospectoris currently correcting out to
2nd overall in the ORR divisions and 2nd in the BMW of San Rafael E
Division. Top honors for ORR and E division currently belongs to pre-race
favoritePyewacket, the famous Alan Andrews designed sled owned by Roy
Pat Disney and sailing with internationally acclaimed crewmembers such as
navigator Tom Addis, VOR stud Stu Bannatyne and 5-time Olympic medalist
Torben Grael.
Again proving why one-design racing is so thrilling to watch, much of the
Express 27 fleet appears to be sailing within sight of one another with the top
four boats seemingly playing musical chairs on the leaderboard; it's that close.

We have a new leader in the DH1/ Pau Maui Vodka division in Alternate
Reality, as Loose CannonandFired Up! also find themselves on the podium
at the moment while pre-race favorite Motorcycle Irene is in a dog fight in this
competitive fleet and currently sails in 4th place, though all positions are still
up for grabs. Rebecca Hinden's Express 27Bombora, which is sailing three-
up in the Coral Reef Sailing Apparel A division still remains ahead of all of the
doublehanded Express 27's on handicap, but with her slightly more northerly
position, she should soon be passed by some of the more southerly boats
who are sailing more than a knot faster to contest for overal Express 27
Benjamin Rummen's Farr 1220The Fugitive remains in a steady first place in
the Weems & Plath B division, though just a handful of hours on corrected
time over her pursuers, which are tightly clustered together. The Swan
46Free, Grand Soleil 50Alessandra,Davidson 44Imagineand Farr
44Companera are all essentially tied on corrected time, with everything still to
play for. Taking a conservative, middle of the road approach, this fleet should
be slow and steady towards the finish. Squared back and running deep, this
should be a low-and-slow drag race to the barn in Kaneohe with little chance
for a major tactical home run to blow the division open. The other fleet of
Wednesday starters, the Alaska Airlines C division is living up to the pre-race
hype with Dean Treadway's Farr 36Sweet Okolevirtually tied on corrected
time with Phil Wampold's J/92Zaff,who is sailing neck and neck with the
Hobie 33 Aloha and the Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy. As the breeze
continues to move aft and this becomes a true downwind race, Zaffwill have
her work cut out for her to run deep angles in the light-to-moderate trades that
are forecast to the finish. The big questions will be whether Okole can leg out
on her rivals, ifZaffcan keep up, and if the smaller, lighter Hobie 33 and
Evelyn 32 can make gains.
In the Pasha Hawaii D division,J World's Cazan'searly flyer to the south
looked brilliant in the short-term, while her more northerly rivals were
becalmed, but once they picked up the breeze, they have accelerated into the
lead as Cazanhas faded. Gregory Mullins' Farr 52Zamazaan and her crew,
which includes several professional sailors, has jumped out to a big lead in
division, whileJ World's Hula Girl is off their port quarter, though sailing
slightly slower and on a faster rated boat. It is a commendable effort from a
group of pay-to-play sailors who are sailing their hearts out against the wicked
up pro crew on Zamazaan. The J/120Hokulaniis rounding out the podium at
the moment, while Chris Kramer's 32-foot rocketship Six Brothers continues to
move up the leaderboard after struggling in the early stages. As the breeze
continues to move aft, watch for Six Brothers to displace Hokulani on the
leaderboard; at the moment, the two are virtually tied.



Pacific Cup Update -part 2

The ocean greyhound that is Prospector has found her pace and we are clipping along under our A3 spinnaker after two days plus of upwind and close jib reaching. Last night was a bit of challenge as tight spinnaker reaching on a dark night with no horizon caused a few spin outs even with our best drivers but thankfully no full on yard sales.

So far the tourist brochure has been a little optimistic as we continue towards Hawaii under leaden skies more typical of the North Atlantic. It's still long underwear and foul weather gear on deck. Maybe the board shorts come out tomorrow. We have all begun to adapt to life at 20 degree heel with 18 souls packed in a narrow carbon fiber tube all perched on the high side like very unskilled mountain climbers. The water is warming though which means so is the interior. Couple a hot humid micro climate with 18 unwashed bodies and you have the perfect re-creation of a barnyard. I don't know how Colette does it but she manages with a smile and continues to feed us three squares a day.

The ocean we left in San Francisco was filled with wildlife but after 24 hours we have found ourselves utterly alone without any wildlife companionship. Sort of odd as we saw wildlife all the way across the Atlantic. We have seen a few flying fish so maybe our luck will turn. And speaking of alone, for our fans at home following on the tracker, it looks like there are boats everywhere but looks are deceiving. Out here we have seen no one save a ship yesterday. One terrific thing is we haven't seen any garbage which is a bit of a relief.

Signing off for now at 16 knots heading for sunshine. Oh and one final thing: a shout out from mid Pacific to our uber fan Chuck Tiernan.

Pacific Cup Update

7/15/18 0000hrs

We were promised board shorts and T shirts.  So far it has been brisk, tight angle jib reaching since more or less the west side of the Golden Gate.  Over the past 24 hours, the air temperature as crept slowly upward as the sun poked through a rather consistent clout layer, offering tantalizing previews of the conditions which garnered the tag line “The Fun Race to Hawaii.”

Prospector could not have asked for a better start with 20-22 knots of breeze at the mouth of San Francisco Bay.  Sporty conditions all around as we jockeyed for starting position with Pyewacket within spitting distance of St. Francis Yacht Club.  With boat speeds near 12 knots, and a fairly short line, the real challenge at the start was to find a place to slow down, hold a spot and prepare for a speed run seconds before the gun.  Luckily, we were able to defend a window on the boat end of the line, allowing a clear lane out of the harbor.

Once through the Golden Gate and its wind tunnel effect, the breeze sat down dramatically.  By about 5 miles offshore, we changed from our J2 into the J1 for better light air performance.  It’s now midnight on Saturday, and we’ve been in that setup since Friday afternoon

Currently, the goal is to get around the southern edge of a windless zone that has swallowed up the Wednesday and Thursday starters.  We’ve been on starboard tack the entire time; a drag race to get to the southerly trades.  In this environment, nothing stays still.  Sails are stacked and re-stacked.  Jib sheets, mainsheets and runners are in constant motion, squealing protests against their winches as the on-deck crew squeezes every knot of boatspeed.  For the off-watch crew, life below is like trying to sleep inside a guitar.  Every burp of the jib or drop on the runners sends shockwaves echoing through the hull, magnified to the point that might just shake some fillings loose.

For now though, we press on in cracked sheet upwind mode.  Routing suggests we should be into the traditional Fun Race to Hawaii weather in another 24 hours or so.  We’re already starting to see some of the lift we need to move into our off the wind inventory, and hopefully beginning putting up big numbers to Hawaii.